Moving away from the 9-5
May 15, 2014 7:18 AM Subscribe
Recent life changes and ongoing thinking about the future have driven me to explore an escape from the high pressure 9-5 working world, and a move into a life that is more community-driven and compassionate. What are some ways someone on a low income can free themselves from the treadmill?
posted by winterhill to Work & Money (15 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
This is something I've been thinking about for some time, but I've been triggered into wanting to actually take steps and do something towards it by my work situation - the organisation I work for is under constant financial pressure and we're now in the death spiral of monthly "we might not be able to make payroll" warnings, which is an obvious "get out! now!" sign. But instead of just jumping ship from one crap, low-paid dead-end job to another, I've been really strongly considering an alternative, simpler way of living. I just can't see myself doing office work forever; I'm already nearly 30 and quite unhappy at a deep level. I feel like the office-worker lifestyle is affecting my health - I have been diagnosed with anxiety, I'm putting on weight, I'm feeling lethargic and sedentary and downright sad.
I feel driven towards working in a less structured environment - not because I am shy of work, but because of the opposite, I want to work, rather than sit in front of a screen all day long not doing very much at all. There are lots of stories out there about people who've quit the 9-5 and survived perfectly well, and it makes me wonder why it's not something I could also do. I feel like my life is currently of so little value that the only people who'd notice if I fell off a cliff would be people I normally pay, like my landlord - I feel like a human ATM, a source of income for others, and little else. I don't have a career goal, and frankly I get frightened when people are super-competitive in terms of work and career and relationships. As long as I'm safe, warm, and fed I'm content.
A lot of the research I've done and the literature I've read on homesteading and 'trading down' seems to be targeted at people who are already in a better financial situation than me. Much of it assumes that you're looking to downsize from a highly-paid job and home ownership - so many of the simple living self-help books begin "first, sell your home". There's very little out there for people in my situation. I earn £18,000 a year, have a small four-figure sum in savings, and rent a home. I already live quite simply, I've never been an extravagant person. The capitalist / consumer lifestyle of competing with other people to progress up the career ladder, raising my salary, getting a slightly bigger house and a slightly bigger car and bigger loans to pay for it all feels like a nightmare to me, and after working for ten years non-stop from 18, I feel like I want something different. I'm unlikely to be a very good online 'remote worker' - I don't have any real in-demand computer skills, I'm not a programmer or anything like that, and in any case I'd rather avoid computer work. I'd be looking for more physical things to do.
Intentional communities and similar projects are something I've done a lot of reading around - working alongside others with a similar mindset to build and produce something tangible is an idea that really excites me. In the UK, we don't quite have the homesteading culture of people going off and doing their own thing on the land as much (because don't have the vast quantities of spare land that larger countries do) but we do have one or two organised intentional communities dotted around. But those aren't the only option - I'd like to hear all sorts of stories and experiences about how people have opted out of the 9-5 treadmill.
What pointers could you give me around alternative ways of living and surviving? I'm open to hearing any options, any thoughts or ideas - ways of opting out of the super-competitive capitalist consumerist society that I've found myself feeling ever so lost in, and finding my way into a slower, gentler, more communal and co-operative way of life. Inspire me!